Macro Links Oct 16th – “Only Xi is Indispensable”
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MACRO LINKS TABLE OF CONTENTS (Click or Scroll Down)
- CHINA’ S 19TH PARTY CONGRESS
- IRAN DEAL
- REX TILLERSON
- NORTH KOREA
- NAFTA RISK, TRADE IMPACTS, HEALTHCARE
- LEGAL BILLS, RUSSIAN VIEWING
- CATALAN INDEPENDENCE
- AUSTRIAN ELECTION
- SAUDI ARABIA
- CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES, PUERTO RICO
- RATES, LIQUIDITY, SYSTEMIC RISK, BALANCE SHEETS
- MACRO OP-EDS, INSIGHT, EVENTS AND TRENDS
- CENTRAL BANKS & MONETARY POLICY
- USA ECONOMY DATA, CITIES AND STATES
- POSITIONING, INFLECTION, MARKET CALLS
- COLOR, EARNINGS, SENTIMENT, VALUATIONS
- REAL ESTATE, HOUSING, REITS, COMMERCIAL
- HEDGE FUNDS, PRIVATE EQUITY, MONEY MGMT
- ENERGY COMPANIES, NOCs, INDUSTRY
- ENERGY CRUDE OIL, OIL SANDS, SHALE
- ENERGY RENEWABLES, NUCLEAR
- COMMODITIES PRECIOUS METALS
- POLLUTION, CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT
- BREXIT, SCOXIT, LONDON, UK ECONOMY
- GEOPOLITICS, CRIME, TERRORISM
- HEALTHCARE, TAX REFORM, BUDGET
- SILICON VALLEY, UNICORNS, STARTUPS, VC
- RETAIL APPAREL, SPECIALTY, DINING, BIG BOX
- MEDIA, CABLE, SPORTS, ENTERTAINMENT
- AUTOS, ELECTRIC, SELF-DRIVING
- ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, DRONES, FUTURE TECH
- SCIENCE, NATURE, PSYCHOLOGY
CHINA’ S 19TH PARTY CONGRESS
As Mr Xi prepares to preside over a party congress starting on Wednesday that will mark the start of his second term in office, the question is whether China’s leader intends to use his power to continue the Deng legacy of “opening up” or whether he will instead pursue a narrower agenda of defending the position of the ruling party and his own allies.
It is a sign of the times when markets have China’s 19th Party Congress in their sights. This highly scripted but opaque gathering, held every five years, is not typically a market-moving event. This time, though, President Xi Jinping’s position at home, and China’s on the world stage, make for a more intriguing Congress, and investors should keep a close eye on what transpires.
Beyond the rituals of assessing accomplishments and airing broad policy objectives, most of the focus at the Congress will be on nominees to high office; the futures of Premier Li Keqiang and of Wang Qishan, Mr Xi’s close colleague and head of the anti-corruption campaign, and whether Mr Xi, himself, might stay in office for more than the normal 10 years. Otherwise, the Congress is expected to be a sort of coronation of the president, who has consolidated firm control over the Communist party, the People’s Liberation Army and the internal security apparatus, and become personally identified with key campaigns, including those emphasising the China dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and the Belt and Road Initiative.
China’s ascension as an economic superstar over the past three-plus decades is out of sync with its heft in global financial markets. But things are starting to change, and investors around the world will feel the difference.
China makes up more than one-seventh of the global economy, yet its footprint in international portfolios is ludicrously small, with overseas investors owning less than 2 percent of its domestic stocks and bonds. But its insulated markets are slowly becoming more integrated, as President Xi Jinping loosens rules on foreign participation. That push could get further backing at the Communist Party’s twice-a-decade congress this month, where the leadership will set policy priorities for the coming five years.
Home renovations, gym classes, model aeroplane flights and a host of other mundane activities have been suspended in Beijing, lest they disrupt the Chinese capital’s political event of the decade.
With just three days to the opening of a Communist party congress that will pave the way for President Xi Jinping to rule China for at least another five years, no activity is too small to escape scrutiny from the officials responsible for ensuring the event goes without a hitch.
“In a period where we see countries becoming more inward looking, in a period where we see countries becoming more nationalistic what President Xi said at Davos was extremely important,” Mr Kim said. “He said: ‘The global market system is the ocean we all swim in and any to stop the flow, of capital, goods or people and turn this ocean back into rivers or streams will fail.’”
On the eve of his anointment by the Chinese Communist Party for a second five-year term as China’s leader, Xi Jinping seems to be the master of all he surveys. He has centralized economic and national-security policy in his office. The military and the police are firmly under control. Legions of corrupt officials—some of them political rivals, others caught brazenly on the take—are in jail. Dissidents and activists have been sidelined or locked up.
But Mr. Xi’s most consequential political battle today has received little attention. As he has tightened his grip on the party and the military, he now faces only one potential set of genuine rivals: China’s new class of wealthy entrepreneurs. China’s communist leaders have long been known to dread a Soviet-style collapse, but Mr. Xi and his senior colleagues are equally worried about replicating what came in its aftermath: the rise of the Russian oligarchs, who snatched control of state assets and turned themselves into billionaires and pushy political players. Mr. Xi is determined not to let that happen in China.
For China’s leadership — gathering this week at the 19th Communist Party Congress — cleaning the noxious skies and filthy rivers has become a priority. In contrast to previous leaders’ growth-at-all-costs approach, President Xi Jinping and his premier have declared war on pollution, spurred by the anger of citizens enshrouded in smog that’s sometimes more than 50 times more toxic than levels deemed safe by the World Health Organization.
That political will overlaps with an economic need to rein in surplus production of steel, aluminum and other basic materials after years of over-investment. How and when that capacity gets replaced will be a key factor in the economy’s performance beyond 2017.
Ending China’s dependence on debt-fueled growth may be the easy part of Beijing’s financial reform. Dismantling the complex and opaque system that grew up to satisfy the country’s insatiable demand for borrowing will be harder and more dangerous.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has been trying to get a grip on the country’s financial system since he took office five years ago, with Beijing’s efforts ramping up in the last year. The government pricked asset bubbles by pushing up interest rates while injecting cash to contain the damage. It issued new rules to rein in largely unregulated financial products that boosted lending while promising big returns.
Yet the scale of the problem remains daunting. China’s economy has grown increasingly dependent on its shadow banking sector for credit, boosting its assets to nearly $20 trillion at the end of last year, according to Nomura—a sixfold increase in just six years.
Banks have been the biggest enablers of the growth of the system’s dark underbelly. Recently, they have found important allies in nonbank financial institutions—a raft of trust companies, insurers, fund-management companies and securities firms that collectively hold some 20% of Chinese financial assets, according to Moody’s, up from 9% in 2010.
Mr. Trump’s decision not to certify that Iran was complying with all terms of the agreement came after a fierce debate inside the administration, according to a senior official familiar with the discussions and who agreed to describe them on the condition of anonymity.
Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis argued that it was in the national security interests of the United States to keep the deal’s constraints on Iran. The two men succeeded, over time, in persuading Mr. Trump not to immediately scrap the accord, despite his campaign promise to do so.
The U.S.’s European allies responded swiftly with a joint statement from British Prime Minister Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron reaffirming their commitment to the deal, which they called “a major step towards ensuring that Iran’s nuclear programme is not diverted for military purposes.”
U.S. officials defended President Donald Trump’s refusal to certify the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, saying the country threatens
global stability even while technically complying with the accord itself.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday he believes staying in the Iran nuclear deal is in the best interest of the U.S.
“I checked. I’m fully intact,” Mr Tillerson, the former chief executive of ExxonMobil who also owns a cattle ranch in Texas, told CNN when asked whether he felt “gelded”. Mr Tillerson, who recently came under fire for reportedly referring to Mr Trump as a “moron”, was indirectly responding to his ally Bob Corker, the top Republican on the Senate foreign relations committee, who said Mr Trump had “publicly castrated” him.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday that President Donald Trump had instructed him to continue diplomatic efforts to calm rising tensions with North Korea, saying “those diplomatic efforts will continue until the first bomb drops.”
The United States military said on Monday that it would practice evacuating noncombatant Americans out of South Korea in the event of war and other emergencies, as the two allies began a joint naval exercise amid heightened tensions with North Korea.
The exercise, known as Courageous Channel, is scheduled from Oct. 23 to 27. The annual training drills are aimed at preparing American “service members and their families to respond to a wide range of crisis management events such as noncombatant evacuation and natural or man-made disasters,” the United States military said in a statement.
When North Korean hackers tried to steal $1 billion from the New York Federal Reserve last year, only a spelling error stopped them. They were digitally looting an account of the Bangladesh Central Bank, when bankers grew suspicious about a withdrawal request that had misspelled “foundation” as “fandation.”
Even so, Kim Jong-un’s minions still got away with $81 million in that heist.
Then only sheer luck enabled a 22-year-old British hacker to defuse the biggest North Korean cyberattack to date, a ransomware attack last May that failed to generate much cash but brought down hundreds of thousands of computers across dozens of countries — and briefly crippled Britain’s National Health Service.
Their track record is mixed, but North Korea’s army of more than 6,000 hackers is undeniably persistent, and undeniably improving, according to American and British security officials who have traced these attacks and others back to the North.
The series of quakes has prompted experts and observers to suspect the last test – which the North claimed to be of a hydrogen bomb – may have damaged the mountainous location in the northwest tip of the country, where all of North Korea’s six nuclear tests were conducted.
“The explosion from the Sept. 3 test had such power that the existing tunnels within the underground testing site might have caved in,” said Kim So-gu, head researcher at the Korea Seismological Institute.
NAFTA RISK, TRADE IMPACTS, HEALTHCARE
Donald Trump’s presidency has so far been largely good for big business and investors, but the risk of a serious jolt now looms: the potential end of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which has governed continental commerce for a quarter-century.
Because the likelihood of a collapse has seemed so remote, analysts are only now starting to assess the implications. The early read: It wouldn’t necessarily be catastrophic, but it would be a net negative for the overall economy, cause a big squeeze to some sectors and states and could dent stocks.
“The reversal of Nafta leads to a decline in real GDP, trade, investment, and employment in the U.S., Canada and Mexico,” concludes one of the first detailed studies on the subject, by ImpactECON LLC, a Colorado-based economic consultancy. The firm estimates that while some production would move north of the border with Mexico, the U.S. would still suffer a net loss of 256,000 U.S. jobs over three to five years. Mexico would lose 951,000 jobs and Canada 125,000.
The EU’s top trade official has hit out against the Trump administration’s continued blocking of appointments to the World Trade Organisation’s dispute settlement body, saying the stance risks “killing the WTO from inside”.
Speaking in an interview with the Financial Times, Cecilia Malmström, the EU’s trade commissioner, said that the impasse, which has already left two of the seven seats on the WTO’s appellate body vacant, could lead to the breakdown of a system that is central to managing disagreements among the world’s most powerful trading nations.
Her comments reflect mounting international anxiety about the future of the appellate body, the WTO’s top dispute settlement authority, since the US rejected proposals from the EU and seven Latin American countries in August to begin a selection process to fill the growing number of vacancies.
Japanese officials are expressing growing frustration with the Trump administration’s economic policies, vowing to continue striking trade deals with other countries that undercut U.S. agricultural exports rather than seek a new trade agreement with the United States.
The frustration comes both from President Donald Trump’s harsh rhetoric on trade and from his pullout from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Japan still hopes can provide a bulwark against China’s growing influence in the Asia-Pacific region.
U.S. President Donald Trump will hurt low-income Americans by doing away with Obamacare subsidies and make it harder for him to engage in bipartisan talks with Democrats as Congress edges toward a possible government shutdown, lawmakers said on Sunday.
LEGAL BILLS, RUSSIAN VIEWING
As the Russia probes have mounted, the president’s reelection committee and the National Republican Committee have spent $2.4 million this year on lawyers.
A new FEC filing says the Trump Campaign paid over $200,000 to a lawyer for Donald Trump Jr.
The campaign spent more than $1.1 million on legal fees in the last quarter, underscoring the extent to which the investigations have consumed the president’s team.
President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign raised more than $10.1 million in the third quarter of 2017 and spent $4 million, including $1.1 million on legal fees.
A woman who said Donald Trump groped her has subpoenaed his campaign for documents about “any woman alleging that Donald J. Trump touched her inappropriately.” Trump has denied her accusations and is fighting the subpoena.
A former Russian internet troll says the training for influencing the American election included screening “House of Cards,” and reading – and writing – comments on the websites of the New York Times and the Washington Post.
The first to go were the banks. Then construction companies left. Now even Catalonia’s iconic Cava producer is considering leaving the prosperous north-eastern Spanish region that is heading helter-skelter towards a declaration of independence.
José Luis Bonet, chief executive of leading Cava maker Freixenet, says he will recommend to his board that they move headquarters if Catalonia declares independence. “We cannot run the risk of being outside the European Union,” he adds.
Catalonia’s President Carles Puigdemont defended the region’s claim to independence, a move that may cause the Spanish government to begin the process of suspending self-rule within days.
Catalonia’s leader failed to say whether he declared the region independent from Spain last week, maintaining the separatists’ defiance of Madrid and raising the possibility of a reprisal by the central government.
The contest in Austria, which often serves as a political bellwether in Europe, was a reminder of how, two years on from the continent’s migration crisis, populist forces are still able to harness widespread anger over the issue to make electoral gains and influence national politics.
Sebastian Kurz, Austria’s 31-year-old foreign minister, topped Sunday’s poll but only after overhauling his centre-right People’s party, which has been in government for the past 30 years, and embracing many of the hardline immigration policies of the Freedom party.
Austria became the latest European country to take a sharp turn right on Sunday, with the conservative People’s Party riding a hard-line position on immigration to victory in national elections and likely to form a government with a nationalist party that has long advocated for an even tougher stance.
The result puts the 31-year-old foreign minister and People’s Party leader, Sebastian Kurz, in line to become Austria’s next chancellor after a campaign in which he emphasized the need to strengthen border controls, reduce caps on refugees and slash benefits for newcomers.
Its strong showing means the Freedom party could demand a high price to join a coalition led by Mr Kurz. That would almost certainly result in a more aggressive position from Vienna on many EU topics, including immigration, and the Freedom party occupying top government posts such as the foreign and interior ministries. Heinz Christian Strache, Freedom party’s leader, hailed his party’s “great success” but refrained from immediate comment on any possible coalition.
“This is a huge challenge for the country, and it has great implications for the world,” Goldman Sachs Inc. Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein said at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum in New York in September. While there should be urgency, there’s also a case for caution so the change needed for “stability in the long run doesn’t produce instability in the short run,” he said.
Interviews and conversations with more than two dozen investors, analysts, executives, diplomats and government advisers in Saudi Arabia and abroad show businesses are still reeling from government spending cuts following the collapse in the oil price. Some regard the war in Yemen and the showdown with neighboring Qatar as costly sideshows.
“All of the regional problems—Qatar, Yemen, Syria, Iraq—all are a distraction,” Turki Al Rasheed, a Saudi businessman, said at his sprawling home in an upscale Riyadh neighborhood as he leafed through notes on the kingdom’s continued dependency on oil. Failing to achieve sustainable development is “the real threat,” he said.
Saudi Aramco is considering shelving plans for an international listing in favour of a private share sale to the world’s biggest sovereign wealth funds and institutional investors.
Talks about a private sale to foreign governments including China and other investors have gathered pace in recent weeks, according to five people familiar with the initial public offering preparations, amid growing concerns about the feasibility of an international listing.
CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES, PUERTO RICO
A state that was struggling with slow construction and soaring prices and rents now must find accommodation for thousands of evacuees from scorched zones.
No one here was blind to the risk of living in near-constant drought conditions, and of the steady push of development from city centers into the eucalyptus and scrub brush in the dry hills outside. But some say it was easy to forget given the region’s history of being mostly fire-free, even as similar areas in the state’s south burn every year.
“How can it be that the loss of 40 human beings on American soil did not merit a single tweet?” the San Francisco Chronicle
Three weeks after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, the absence of electric power is preventing businesses from reopening and consumers from accessing cash, piling up billions of dollars in lost productivity on top of widespread storm damage.
Russian president Vladimir Putin warned about the risks of cryptocurrencies on Tuesday and indicated regulators in Moscow were ready to crack down on the boom.
‘200kWh is enough to run over 200 washing cycles. In fact, it’s enough to run my entire home over four weeks, which consumes about 45 kWh per week.’
Governments around the world will “crush” bitcoin before long, according to two of the most powerful men on Wall Street, who argue that the only real value in the fast-rising virtual currency is as a tool for criminals and money launderers.
At a conference in Washington on Friday afternoon, Jamie Dimon, the chairman and chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, noted recent moves to curb the circulation of bitcoin in China and an initiative in Japan to launch an electronic currency pegged to the yen.
These were signs of authorities getting a proper grip on virtual currencies, he said, because “they like to know where the money is, who has it, and what you’re doing with it”.
“A fiat currency is when a government says, this is your legal tender, you have to give it and accept it, and of course the central bank can misuse it and inflate it,” said Mr Dimon, who has sat atop the largest US bank by assets for a decade.
“But what is the use case for bitcoin? You’re in Venezuela, North Korea, you’re a criminal. Great product!” he said, to gales of laughter from a room full of bankers, gathered for an annual meeting of the Institute of International Finance.
Mr Dimon’s stance was endorsed on stage by Larry Fink, chairman and chief executive of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, who likened the price of bitcoin to an “index of money laundering”.
Iqbal Gandham, UK managing director of eToro, a website that allows people to copy the strategies of other traders, said: “You’ve got an extremely volatile product on top of an extremely volatile product and you’re adding leverage to that — you’ve got to think, will it blow up?” His site added extra protection for customers within weeks of first offering crypto-CFDs last year.
This month, CySEC the regulator in Cyprus, where many small trading companies are based, warned investors that trading the products came with a “high risk of losing all your invested capital”.
Barclays Plc will need to defend its advantages in the payments business from encroachment by technology companies including Amazon.com Inc. and Apple Inc., according to Chief Executive Officer Jes Staley.
RATES, LIQUIDITY, SYSTEMIC RISK, BALANCE SHEETS
The International Monetary Fund has begun preparations for a possible rescue of Venezuela that could require $30bn or more in international help annually and come alongside one of the world’s most complex bond restructurings and a big test of Fund rules.
People’s Bank of China Governor Zhou Xiaochuan warned that Chinese companies have taken on too much debt, and argued for less financial leverage as well as fiscal reforms to constrain local government borrowing.
Blackstone Group is pushing aggressively into products for retail investors, betting it can raise as much from them over the long term as it does from the institutions that form the main source of its $371 billion of assets.
Ray Dalio’s Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge-fund firm, has mounted a $770 million wager against Italian financial stocks, its biggest disclosed bearish bet in Europe, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
The investments, aimed at exploiting any declines in the shares, are spread over five banks and one insurer and were disclosed in regulatory filings over the past week. The Westport, Connecticut-based investment firm, which oversees about $160 billion, is also shorting Milan-based Prysmian SpA, the world’s largest cable maker, and Enel SpA, Italy’s largest utility. A regulatory filing posted Friday showed Bridgewater opened a $311 million position against the utility. The hedge fund now has more than $1.1 billion combined riding against Italian companies. A spokesman for Bridgewater declined to comment.
Mario Draghi has been dragged into the spat between Frankfurt and Rome over how to deal with hundreds of billions of euros of sour loans held by Italian banks, with the European Central Bank president insisting on Saturday the problem had to be sorted out.
The ECB’s latest plan to fix and police almost €1tn of non-performing loans across the eurozone has reopened a dispute with Rome, Mr Draghi’s home town. The Single Supervisory Mechanism, the bank’s supervisory wing, has been criticised by Italian officials — including the finance minister, a former prime minister and central bankers — over a plan to impose strict new rules on how lenders deal with bad loans.
Some European Central Bank policy makers have identified a limit of just over 2.5 trillion euros ($3 trillion) for the region’s quantitative-easing program under the current rules, according to central-bank officials familiar with the matter.
Dozens of high-speed traders and others from Wall Street are helping the Pentagon study how hackers could unleash chaos in the U.S. financial system.
The Department of Defense’s research arm over the past year and a half has consulted executives at high-frequency trading firms and quantitative hedge funds, and people from exchanges and other financial companies, participants in the discussions said. Officials described the effort as an early-stage pilot project aimed at identifying market vulnerabilities.
The post-crisis regulatory system is fostering increasing complexity and growth of massive financial firms, ignoring the lessons of the meltdown, according to a senior White House official.
Gary Cohn, the director of Donald Trump’s National Economic Council, said regulation was leading to the consolidation of more activity in a handful of vast companies. He flagged particular concern around the increasing amount of activity that is being run through clearing houses — something that is starting to “resonate” as an important systemic risk, he said.
Mr Cohn argued that the tough regulatory regime after the crisis was having perverse effects by leading to the market consolidating in “bigger and bigger players”.
“We made the system so complex and so intricate and in some respects so highly regulated that we forgot what the initial mission was,” Mr Cohn said. That mission was to “simplify the system, it was to bring more and new participants into the system, it was to bring new capital into the system. We have accomplished the exact opposite.”
MACRO OP-EDS, INSIGHT, EVENTS AND TRENDS
Donald Trump is threatening again to terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement if Canada and Mexico don’t agree to his ultimatums. If this is a negotiating tactic of making extreme demands only to settle for much less and claim victory, maybe it will work. Otherwise Mr. Trump is playing a game of chicken he can’t win.
Taken together, these upheavals have, as so often before, opened the way to demagogues, promising simple solutions to complex problems. This happened in the Brexit campaign in the UK, where a small majority was induced to choose a journey to an unknown destination. This has happened in Catalonia, launched on a potentially devastating journey to independence. It has happened, above all, in the US, where the implications of Donald Trump’s election remain almost as obscure as they were on the day of his inauguration.
Inevitably, the transformation of US policy is far and away the deepest worry. This might still amount to little more than sound and fury signifying nothing. But it is also far too early to be confident of that. The administration seems set on vast tax cuts at a time of near full employment. It suggests that this will somehow create a huge upsurge in growth. That is not inconceivable, but it is hugely unlikely. More likely are rising inflation, a sharp rise in interest rates, a higher dollar and a huge surge in the current account deficit.
Meanwhile, the administration is also set on the opposite objective of reducing the external deficit through a series of negotiations, starting with Nafta. The aim of fixing an overall current account deficit through bilateral trade negotiations is not only intellectually incoherent, but clashes directly with its fiscal policies. It may be nonsense, but it could lead to the cumulative unravelling of the global trading system.
As important might be the choice of the next chair of the Federal Reserve. We have learnt many times the enormous impact of that choice in shaping not just the US, but the world, economies. It is a job in which the wrong person can do an enormous amount of damage.
Beyond this is the fear of global conflict. Of great long-term significance could be the determination of the president to decertify Iran’s compliance with the deal on nuclear arms, without supporting evidence. This would demonstrate that a deal with the US means nothing.
This is a time of high uncertainty. The demagogic tide might amount to little, in the end. But inevitably these risks shadow the talks in Washington. Markets happily ignore it. Markets might be wrong.
China has always been a pressure cooker—too many people, not enough land, and a long tradition of authoritarian governments with a flexible approach to the rule of law that depends on who you are and who you know.
But the country is a highly pressurized system in another way too: unlike most major economies, China strictly controls the movement of cash in and out of the country, and actively manages the value of its currency, the yuan. China’s central bank sets a daily trading range for the yuan against the dollar every morning, and actively intervenes in foreign-exchange markets through state banks when the currency moves too sharply.
Reformers inside China and many investors are hoping that pressure will be eased by another round of big-bang reforms in China similar to its accession to the World Trade Organization in the early 2000s. One big change would be a shift toward a free-floating currency after President Xi Jinping is comfortably ensconced in his second five-year term following the big Communist party meeting that starts Wednesday.
Instead, Mr. Xi and his allies are busy shoring up China’s rickety, heavily indebted state-owned companies and banks, which are dependent on a plentiful supply of cheap capital. As long as key parts of the state sector can’t survive without low-cost funding, allowing capital to leave the country at will in search of higher returns is simply too risky. The result: strict controls on the yuan, in one form or another, are likely to remain in place.
Meanwhile, all that capital trapped in China will keep blowing bubbles in real estate, stocks, commodities and every other asset imaginable: distorting signals about China’s economy. Capital controls will be eased incrementally when domestic assets are doing better—to let some of the steam out of overheated markets—and tightened again when outflows rise too fast. The real direction of “reform” will be sideways, not forward.
As things stand at the moment, eighteen months from now the UK will leave the EU without any agreement on trade regulation or tariffs, either with the EU or any of the other countries with which it currently has trade agreements. The arrangements which assure the smooth running of 60 percent of our goods trade will disappear. Once we are outside the regulatory framework, many products, particularly in highly regulated areas like agriculture and pharmaceuticals, will no longer be accredited for sale in Europe. Aeroplanes will be unable to fly to and from the EU to the UK. Those goods which can still legally be traded with the EU will face lengthy customs checks. Integrated supply chains and just-in-time manufacturing processes will be severely disrupted and, in some cases, damaged beyond repair. Unless politicians do something, that’s where we are heading.
International trade and commerce doesn’t just happen. It is facilitated by a framework of agreements on tariffs, quotas and regulations. Without these, trade is either very expensive or, in some cases, simply illegal. Therefore, if the UK were to leave the EU without concluding a trade deal, things wouldn’t simply stay the same. They would be very different and very damaging.
Recent developments in technology and geopolitics, however, have already ignited a process to bring an end to the financial system predicated on petrodollars, which will have a profound impact on global financial markets. The 40-year equilibrium of this system is being dismantled by the exponential growth of technology, which will have a bearish impact on both supply and demand of petroleum. Moreover, the system no longer is in the best interest of key participants in the global oil trade. These developments have begun to exert influence on financial markets and will only grow over time. The upheaval of the petrodollar recycling system will trigger a resurgence of volatility and new price trends, which will lead to a renaissance in macro investing.
The market participants with whom I met theoretically could have the ability to accept cognitively the points made in this article. But the accumulation of many small losses in a low-volatility and generally trendless market has robbed them of confidence and the psychological balance to embrace any new paradigm proactively. They are frozen with fear that the lower- return profile of recent years is permanent—ironic in an industry that is paid to capture price changes in a cyclical world.
The opportunity is reminiscent of the story told by Stanley Druckenmiller, who was promoted early in his investment career to head equity research at a time when his co-workers had vastly more experience than he did. His director of investments informed him that his promotion owed to the same reason they send 18-year-olds to war; they are too dumb to know not to charge. The “winners” under the paradigm now unfolding will be market participants able to disregard stale, anomalous concepts, and charge.
Ironically, many market players who wrongly anticipated a turn in recent years to a more positive environment for macro and trend-following are throwing in the towel. The key difference is that now there is a clear catalyst to trigger the start of the pendulum swinging back to a fertile macro/trend-following trading environment.
University research is in trouble, and so is an economy more dependent on it than many people understand. Federal funding for basic research—more than half of it conducted on university campuses like this one—has effectively declined since 2008, failing to keep pace with inflation. This is before taking into account Trump administration proposals to slash the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) budgets by billions of dollars more.
Trump’s cuts would affect all research universities, but not equally. The problem is more pronounced at public universities than private ones, and especially at public institutions in the Midwest, which have historically conducted some of the nation’s most important research. These schools are desperately needed to diversify economies that rely disproportionately on manufacturing and agriculture and lack the wealthy private institutions that fuel the knowledge industries found in Silicon Valley or along Boston’s 128/I-95 corridor. Yet many flagship Midwestern research universities are being weakened by deep state budget cuts. Threats to pensions (in Illinois) and tenure (in Wisconsin) portend an exodus of faculty and their all-important research funding, and have already resulted in a frenzy of poaching by better-funded and higher-paying private institutions, industry, and international competitors.
This ominous reality could widen regional inequality, as brainpower, talent, and jobs leave the Midwest and the Rust Belt—where existing economic decline may have contributed to the decisive shift of voters toward Donald Trump—for places with well-endowed private and better-funded public universities. Already, some Midwestern universities have had to spend millions from their battered budgets to hang on to research faculty being lured away by wealthier schools. A handful of faculty have already left, taking with them most if not all of their outside funding.
“We’re in the early stages of the stratification of public research universities,” said Dan Reed, the vice president for research and economic development at the University of Iowa. “The good ones will remain competitive. The rest may decline.” Those include the major public universities established since the 1860s, when a federal grant set aside land for them in every state. “We spent 150-plus years building a public higher-education system that was the envy of the world,” said Reed, who got his graduate degrees at Purdue, in Indiana. “And we could in a decade do so much damage that it could take us 30 years to recover.”
CENTRAL BANKS & MONETARY POLICY
Eric Rosengren, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, was a leading advocate for the Fed’s economic stimulus campaign after the financial crisis. Lately, he has been equally outspoken in arguing that the Fed must continue to raise its benchmark interest rate even though inflation remains sluggish.
Mr. Rosengren, perhaps the Fed official whose views most reliably approximate those of Janet L. Yellen, the Fed chairwoman, argues that inflation will rebound as unemployment continues to fall. He also argues that raising rates slowly could prolong the economic expansion by averting any need to raise rates quickly.
Leaders of the world’s largest central banks indicated that weak inflation in advanced economies could prolong the postcrisis era of easy-money policies.
Despite a broad-based improvement in the global economy, wages and consumer prices remain stubbornly low, making central bankers wary of removing their stimulus measures too quickly, they told a Group of 30 banking conference here on Sunday.
Their concerns contrasted with the generally upbeat tone that prevailed during last week’s fall meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, and they suggest that there is still work to do to get the world’s economy on track nearly a decade after the onset of the global financial crisis.
Bank of Japan Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda said Sunday the central bank would continue its expansive monetary policy in an effort to boost inflation.
“The Bank of Japan will consistently pursue aggressive monetary easing with a view to achieving the price stability target at the earliest possible time,” Mr. Kuroda said at a meeting of the Group of 30 in Washington. “Achieving the 2% target is still a long way off,” Mr. Kuroda said.
USA ECONOMY DATA, CITIES AND STATES
Whistleblower Joe Rannazzisi says drug distributors pumped opioids into U.S. communities — knowing that people were dying — and says industry lobbyists and Congress derailed the DEA’s efforts to stop it.
POSITIONING, INFLECTION, MARKET CALLS
There are a mounting number of late-cycle signals in the composition of the post-summer global equity rally that indicate that investors are finally becoming more optimistic, perhaps even euphoric. “I used to always be looking for insurance, but I’m not any more. That might mean we’re nearing the exhaustion point,” Mr Knight ruefully admits.
US consumers haven’t been this optimistic about the economy since the start of 2004, according to a University of Michigan survey.
COLOR, EARNINGS, SENTIMENT, VALUATIONS
PayPal Holdings Inc. vaulted over American Express Co. in terms of market value this week, punctuating a rally that has pushed up the payments company’s shares by nearly 75% since the start of 2017.
The San Jose, Calif., company has enjoyed breakneck growth in both e-commerce and mobile money transfers. Its market capitalization stands at about $83 billion, nearly double the $47 billion value it had when it spun off from eBay Inc. a little over two years ago.
REAL ESTATE, HOUSING, REITS, COMMERCIAL
Li Ka-Shing’s CK Asset Holdings Ltd. sold its 75 percent holding in The Center to a Chinese-led group for HK$40.2 billion ($5.15 billion), a record for a Hong Kong office tower, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.
HEDGE FUNDS, PRIVATE EQUITY, MONEY MGMT
ENERGY COMPANIES, NOCs, INDUSTRY
After spending hundreds of billions of dollars to transform themselves into global natural-gas giants, big energy companies face a new challenge: generating more demand as supplies threaten to balloon and prices languish.
Global oil demand growth will slow to a crawl and gasoline use will peak within the next decade, prompting the the world’s biggest energy companies to accelerate the shift to natural gas and chemicals, according to consultant Wood Mackenzie Ltd.
ENERGY CRUDE OIL, OIL SANDS, SHALE
Oil prices are poised to crash to just $10 per barrel over the next six to eight years as alternative energy fuels continue to attract more and more investors, Chris Watling, chief executive of Longview Economics, told CNBC on Friday.
When looking ahead to 2018, Watling acknowledged that a key catalyst for the oil market would most likely be Saudi Aramco’s initial public offering (IPO) in the second half of next year. And when he was asked about Saudi Arabia’s state oil group being launched on the international stock market, he replied, “Well I think they need to get it away quick before oil goes to $10 (per barrel).”
While Watling explained that he did not necessarily expect such an intense decline in oil prices over the coming weeks or months, he did argue that over the long term “what happens with electric vehicles is really, really important” given that around 70 percent of oil is used for transportation.
Reliance Industries Ltd.’s 1.24 million barrel-a-day facility in western India features highly advanced units designed to process the globe’s heaviest types of crude, which have historically been cheaper than lighter varieties because they are more difficult to break down into fuels. Now, a drive by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to stabilize the oil market is squeezing supplies of such grades and making them relatively costlier.
The result: Billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s company posted quarterly profit that lagged behind estimates for the first time in more than two years. Reliance earned $12 for every barrel of crude it turned into fuel in the second quarter ended Sept. 30, compared with a prediction by CLSA India Pvt. for as much as $12.80 a barrel.
ENERGY RENEWABLES, NUCLEAR
You might not even know your lights are being kept on by the same chemical process that powers your smartphone, since the batteries could be tucked into what looks like a neighborhood junction box, or behind a fence in a substation. But now, thanks to efforts by startups and the utility companies they sell to (and sometimes battle), you might get one right inside your home.
The rise of these home batteries isn’t just a product of our collective obsession with new tech. Their adoption is being driven by a powerful need, says Ravi Manghani, of GTM Research: renewable energy. Without batteries and other means of energy storage, the ability of utility companies to deliver power could eventually be threatened.
COMMODITIES PRECIOUS METALS
Dhanteras is the biggest and most auspicious day of the year to buy gold. While the three months through September were a “washout” in terms of demand, with the money laundering curbs damping purchases during the seasonal monsoon, sales for the full year are seen recovering 5 percent to about 700 tons from 2016, said Sheth. Last year was the worst for demand since 2009.
Gold output in Australia, the world’s second-largest producer, will peak in 2021 and more than halve by the mid-2050s as aging mines close, according to Melbourne-based industry adviser MinEx Consulting Pty. The nation needs to act to boost future production from new discoveries, or risk “significant supply disruption in the medium-term,” MinEx managing director Richard Schodde said in a study published Monday. Gold exploration spending rose 26 percent in the 12 months to July, Australia’s government said in a report this month.
POLLUTION, CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT
For many environmentalists, what happens in this mining case is a test of the world’s commitment to fighting climate change. Its failure would register as an unmistakable sign of an international shift away from the fossil fuels behind climate change. But if Australia agrees to subsidize the mine — even though several commercial banks have shunned it — the project would demonstrate the lasting allure and influence of the coal industry.
“How it can be constructed — at a time when the whole world is committed to move away from fossil fuels — is madness that most people just can’t understand,” said Geoffrey Cousins, president of the Australian Conservation Foundation.
The project, known as the Carmichael mine, has provoked strong resistance in part because of its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef, a natural wonder that is already dying because of overheated seawater blamed on climate change. Adani plans to deliver most of the coal to India on shipping routes that critics say would further damage the ecosystem of the world’s greatest system of reefs.
BREXIT, SCOXIT, LONDON, UK ECONOMY
London house prices are falling at their fastest pace since the aftermath of the financial crisis, confirming the British capital as the worst-performing part of a slowing market.
Theresa May has personally urged Angela Merkel to end the Brexit stand-off at this week’s EU summit in Brussels after Berlin and Paris led moves to toughen the EU’s negotiating line in the next phase of talks.
France and Germany have pushed for changes to a draft paper prepared for Thursday’s summit to avoid giving the impression that the EU will agree guidelines on a transition period as soon as “sufficient progress” has been made in addressing divorce issues such as the exit bill, according to top diplomats.
Mr Coghlan, who stood as an independent anti-Brexit candidate in his home constituency of Battersea in June’s general election, is planning to ramp up promotion next month for Renew, a new party that he hopes will restore centrist fortunes. As well as backing a second Brexit referendum, the party plans to offer voters a mix of environmentalism, modest tax rises to restore the public finances and “aggressive housebuilding”.
In a DER SPIEGEL interview, French President Emmanuel Macron talks about his first months in office, elaborates on his plans for Europe and discusses his developing relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The International Monetary Fund expects the economy to grow 1.3 per cent this year, with the Italian government forecasting 1.5 per cent . While this still lags behind the eurozone average, confidence in the recovery increased further this week on the back of a new batch of strong monthly figures on industrial production.
China’s factory prices jumped more than estimated, as domestic demand remained resilient and the government continued to reduce excess industrial capacity. Consumer price gains matched projections.
Kobe Steel Ltd. has made a startling admission: It sold products that failed quality control tests to about 500 companies. Worse still, it did so not in error but by falsifying data to make it appear that items had made the grade. Aircraft, electronics, car and bullet train manufacturers were among the recipients, raising obvious safety concerns. From Boeing Co. to Ford Motor Co., companies are scrambling to check any affected products. And Japan Inc. is facing up to another embarrassing scandal.
Shares of embattled Kobe Steel Ltd tumbled to their lowest level in nearly 5 years on Monday, as a cheating scandal at the Japanese steelmaker ensnared hundreds of firms and left investors fearing for the financial and legal fallout.
GEOPOLITICS, CRIME, TERRORISM
Iraqi federal forces moved to enter the disputed city of Kirkuk early on Monday morning, in a serious escalation following the Kurdistan Regional Government’s independence referendum last month.
Iraqi and Kurdish officials said that armoured forces were moving on the south of the oil-rich city, which has long been one of the country’s deepest faultlines, claimed by both Erbil and Baghdad. There were reports of clashes.
American officials call for calm as Iraqis move in and Kurds vow to defend the city and oil fields at the center of their bid for independence.
With at least 270 people dead, suspicion fell on the Shabab, a militant group that has been losing ground but, it now appears, perhaps not strength.
The director of Mogadishu’s ambulance service recounts the horrors he saw after Saturday’s devastating bomb blast.
On Saturday October 7, the day the body of 25-year-old Army Sgt. La David Johnson was returned to Dover Air Force Base after he was killed in an ISIS ambush in Niger, President Donald Trump was golfing. It’s not known if the President ever planned to attend the return of remains ceremony at Dover as he has in the past. But since the ambush on October 4 in Niger, he has not commented publicly on the deadliest combat incident involving US troops since he took office.
The conversations caught on wiretaps planted by the Turkish police are alleged to show a conspiracy to help Iran skirt American sanctions by trading gold for gas. The recordings also suggest that the plotters aimed to please one man: Recep Tayyip Erdogan, then the prime minister of Turkey, now the president.
The Erdogan government has dismissed the telephone recordings as fabrications concocted in 2013 by treasonous adversaries who had infiltrated the Turkish police and judiciary.
But United States prosecutors have taken a different view. They have cited the 2013 Turkish investigation in court papers filed in New York where nine men — including a senior Turkish bank official — have been charged with conspiring to evade American sanctions on Iran.
HEALTHCARE, TAX REFORM, BUDGET
The Senate this week will grapple with President Trump’s decision to stop making subsidy payments to health insurers, with lawmakers seeking a deal that would keep the money flowing while Republicans try to fold in conservative-oriented priorities.
Insurer Centene Corp. fell the most in almost a year and hospital operators including Tenet Healthcare Corp. dropped after President Donald Trump cut off Obamacare subsidies, a move that could destabilize the market and hurt company earnings, credit ratings and dealmaking.
SILICON VALLEY, UNICORNS, STARTUPS, VC
The online company is betting that you won’t need to sit on the cushions before you buy — and that it can get the furniture through your door.
The ride-sharing app has recently shifted its focus to the city’s other boroughs, leading it to a milestone: More people are using Uber than the city’s fabled yellow cabs.
Uber’s fast-growing food delivery service accounted for nearly a tenth of the company’s global gross bookings in the second quarter, according to people who have seen the figures, a level that implies the unit is on track to exceed $3bn in gross sales this year.
The previously unreported numbers underscore how rapidly UberEats has grown since its launch two years ago as a standalone app. UberEats has been a rare bright spot this year for the San Francisco-based company, which has been battered by a series of crises, including the firing of co-founder Travis Kalanick in June.
RETAIL APPAREL, SPECIALTY, DINING, BIG BOX
Amazon is sweeping the nation’s capitol with a branding campaign of jobs creation and support for small businesses, promoting the upsides of its major expansion in media, groceries and transportation. This year, Amazon has increased its lobbying staff to 83 members from 60, making it one of the biggest corporate lobbying shops in town. The company is also on its way to surpassing its previous high for lobbying spending: $11.3 million last year. The $6.2 million Amazon spent in the first two quarters of this year was the 11th most among companies, above Exxon and far above Walmart, which spent $3.6 million in the same period.
MEDIA, CABLE, SPORTS, ENTERTAINMENT
Spotify, Apple Music and other services have 30 million U.S. subscribers, and streaming revenue is up 48 percent so far this year.
AUTOS, ELECTRIC, SELF-DRIVING
Auto makers are using more lightweight, high-strength steel for components that shave pounds off their latest models.
Steel has always been cheaper and stronger than aluminum. But conventional steel is heavy. Many car makers seeking to comply with tougher fuel economy requirements have shifted in recent years to aluminum and other light materials like carbon fiber.
Now, steel makers have figured out how to make steel lighter without compromising its strength or versatility. “Everything is moving to thinner and lighter,” said Mark Bula, chief commercial officer at Big River Steel. a mill that opened in Arkansas last year. “The steel industry is moving that way as well.”
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, DRONES, FUTURE TECH
China is building the world’s most powerful facial recognition system with the power to identify any one of its 1.3 billion citizens within three seconds. The goal is for the system to able to match someone’s face to their ID photo with about 90 per cent accuracy.
The project, launched by the Ministry of Public Security in 2015, is under development in conjunction with a security company based in Shanghai. The system can be connected to surveillance camera networks and will use cloud facilities to connect with data storage and processing centres distributed across the country, according to people familiar with the project.
If the development of artificial intelligence is an arms race, then China wants to become the world’s unchallenged AI superpower. While the National Science Foundation in the US has no increase in funding this year, China has promised to “vigorously use governmental and social capital” to dominate the industry.
US and Chinese tech companies alike are ploughing money and talent into AI, but Beijing’s blueprint for investing in artificial intelligence — creating a $150bn industry by 2030 — underlines its desire to beat the US.
While industrial policy is no guarantee of success — contrary to aims, China has failed so far to create global champions in semiconductors or cars — few are dismissing Beijing’s clout in AI, the ability of machines to mimic human thinking and carry out tasks ranging from targeting advertisements to playing Go.
SCIENCE, NATURE, PSYCHOLOGY
In the past three years, the Warriors have won two NBA titles with the most explosive offense in history. This is the inside tale of how it all began — on a plate of appetizers.
An interview with Erik Malinowski, author of ‘Betaball,’ which details the improbable rise of the Golden State Warriors.
Two mathematicians have proved that two different infinities are equal in size, settling a long-standing question. Their proof rests on a surprising link between the sizes of infinities and the complexity of mathematical theories.
The long read: Expert interrogators know torture doesn’t work – but until now, nobody could prove it. By analysing hundreds of top-secret interviews with terror suspects, two British scientists have revolutionised the art of extracting the truth.
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